The G20 Summit will kick off in Riyadh on Saturday, under the chairmanship of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, with the whole of humanity at a dangerous crossroads and before unprecedented challenges.
It is the crossroads of responsibility to protect lives and restore growth through confronting the pandemic that has shaken the world and whose repercussions are still reverberating. This places the G20 before the responsibility of coming up with a strategy to address the raging economic crises and the weaknesses that have emerged in order to lay down the foundations that can protect life on earth.
The people of the world are therefore looking expectantly at the globe’s most important international cooperation summit that brings together influential countries. The world’s top economies will meet at the event. Combined, they make up 85 percent of the global economy, more than 80 percent of global trade and two thirds of the world’s population. All of these countries have suffered from the pandemic and have consequently entered into unforeseen recession. This has, in turn, sparked change in several economic and living trends, which was caused by the sudden lack of or drop in growth. The result was a rise in unemployment, drop in income and more burdens on countries throughout the world, especially the poor. The pandemic has hit hard countries that are witnessing political and security upheaval, as well as the Middle East.
Based on the above, the G20 is faced with the challenge of partnering up with poor countries in combating the pandemic. The outbreak has weighed heavily on these nations that lack the basic means to fight the disease. The developments in recent months have demonstrated that the majority of these countries lack the ability to adapt to the massive pressure given their poor health systems and inability to secure the basic needs of their people amid lockdowns. This therefore demands that urgent international programs be implemented to provide them with support and include them in the distribution of vaccines.
The timing of the G20 Summit can be described as extraordinary in every sense. The summit is always the world’s top event because it brings together its most important potential and natural wealth. It also has the responsibility to overcome the recession and draw up international strategies that can push forward production and growth. Significantly, the summit is being held as breakthroughs in the development of vaccines are beginning to emerge, which will strongly change the course of events imposed by the pandemic.
Another significant note is that the 2020 summit nearly coincides with a year since the news of the virus first emerged in China and ten months since it broke out globally. The virus has infected 55 million people the world over and the numbers are growing as the second wave hits. Deaths have climbed to 1.3 million. The G20 has pumped more than 21 billion dollars in the fight against the pandemic, including the development of vaccines. Once available, the vaccine will help restore normal economic growth, making economic recovery one of the most important issues at hand at the G20 Summit.
We mentioned above that the pandemic has caused several changes in economic trends. The disease has struck at the middle and poor classes, which are the most productive in any economy and guarantees for its security. Entire economic sectors rely on these classes. Countless small and medium enterprises have been forced to close due to the pandemic and many influential sectors have been dealt a heavy blow and need support to survive. Tourism has been hit particularly hard, as have the recreation and real estate sectors. There is no doubt that the G20 Summit will address these issues.
The current reality had made it necessary to hold the summit virtually, which means no bilateral meetings will be held. However, the tireless work witnessed in Saudi Arabia and the race against time to prepare for the summit have provided the firm ground to launch the recovery phase on all levels, coupled with the united global determination to head in that direction. This only underlines Saudi Arabia’s current standing on the global scene.
The G20, with Saudi Arabia at the helm, is being held for the first time in the Arab region. This demonstrates the ability of the leadership of the Kingdom in forging strong ties with influential countries in the world. As president of the G20, it is rightfully representing the Arab and Muslim worlds and it has been entrusted in voicing the messages and interests of these countries.